Yesterday I was transported back to a time when butter was rationed and plane spotters patrolled the streets. I listened, with my loving husband, to the stories of two amazing people of The Greatest Generation. They shared with us their intimate memories and fears and anecdotal tales from high school up through the early 1950's. These were my husband's grandparents. Now both in their 80's still have quite remarkable memories.
In fact, I mentioned to my husband how I think I just received the best history lesson I ever sat through. It was candid and pure and kept us on the edge of our seats wanting more. We poured over albums and books and time slipped away from us. What first started with my interest in the era evolved into my husband and I becoming historian apprentices, in a way. The torch has been passed. We are now the keeper's of so much more than we ever dreamed. For we have stories to share for the next generations in our lives and those which will ideally be passed on even further. The best part was the brilliant happiness the couple had in sharing their lives with us. It seemed as though they felt no one ever took an interest before. They were surprised by my fascination and were more than eager to answer all of my questions. I must admit, I felt a little sheepish at times because I didn't want to pry to much or compare what little I knew to the reality that existed back then. After all, I didn't want to insult or offend them.
In the coming weeks and months, I intend to share with you all so much more, but for tonight, I shall close with this:
They remarked to us how the most common denominator between those living during WWII and now was the military families. In their eyes, the military families exemplify a patriotism and honor that seems lost on most of today's society.
Well, in this crazy life of mine, things are never boring (well not for long anyway). We are entertaining my teenage SIL this week who is here on vacation. Oh, and the other night I was able to enjoy a Ladies Night Out (a rarity). Today, the rains finally let up and sun shone bright. So bright in fact that it was insanely hot and humid. So, we took the little ones out to a local water park. You know, the kind where the fountains spit water at you and the lil'tikes run and shriek with excitement. Yeah, that kind of park. It was fun. It makes me wish adults enjoyed such simple pleasures. Wouldn't life be so lovely?
I think the next time I'm the boss somewhere that's what I'm going to instill. I'll call it "Let's Be Kids Day". Genius, right? We will venture to our local park and run like mad, laughing and not have a care in the world. Either we will be completely relieved and relaxed or the boss-bigger-than-me will fire us all. In any event, it should be interesting to see what transpires.
Seriously though, I can't be the only one who misses the carefree days of childhood or the teen years? What are your favorite summertime memories? What made you feel most at peace or still gives you that feeling. Here's a list of my favorites that I either haven't done in years or don't get to do much anymore:
1) Swinging (on the swings people, c'mon); 2) Running through the sprinkler; 3) Bike riding and kicking your feet out to the sides (you can picture it can't you?); 4) Napping (alone) in a hammock; 5) Hula hooping (I still do this though, so, does it count?); 6) Sitting on the beach and staring at the ocean around sunset (not sunbathing); 7) Oh, and, sitting by a campfire and staring into the warm and glistening embers.
I figured I should stop here for two reasons (1) because I write/talk way too much; and (2) well 7 is a lucky number.
The last time we made a welcome home poster, the girls really felt Daddy needed sparkles and lots of splashes of color. I don't know about you, but I think that sparkles and color do a man good. Keeps him in touch with his feminine side, you know?
I have a myriad of addictions. Some healthy, some not so much (think: Coca Cola and chocolate). I am addicted to books. I collect them. Although, they often rest on my shelves beckoning me; begging for my time. However, my insatiable literary appetite is often trumped by insatiably hungry children beckoning me to come hither for a brawl over dolls or something of that nature. So, it takes months (usually) for me to get through a book. Other addictions I have include writing (shocker, isn't it?); WWII era music (to listen, sing or dance to); purchasing colorful and uniquely designed scrapping paper (of which I have less time for than reading); and last, but certainly not least, higher education.
While most people are content with a diploma or GED, I was not. After lopping off my hair and running off to Parris Island, I still intended on obtaining a college degree. I wasn’t the best student at the point because sadly I was either too busy with work to make it to class each night and/or I had other plans. Yes, I was a slacker and foolishly did not take full advantage of my military tuition assistance. Nonetheless, upon leaving the service, I set my sights firmly on completing my Bachelors. It took me about 6 years of night school/weekend classes and online courses, but I did it. I started and then stopped for about a year, then started again and stopped because of my ridiculous billable hours requirement at the firm, and then started again (for the last time) right before I gave birth to one of my kids.
Yes, I was 8 ½ months pregnant when I resumed classes for the last time in undergrad. By the time I graduated with my BA, I had two beautiful children who I am proud to say were present at my college graduation. All in all, it was a tumultous and very long road, but the end reward was so sweet. I graduated magna cum laude and as a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society. Woot, Woot! What made this all so special, aside from how long it took? Well, during this period, not only was I giving birth and raising babies, but my husband was deployed for almost the whole time. Oh, and I was periodically working too. It was insane! I spent many a nights rocking/nursing babies while analyzing research and dissecting literary metaphors.
Phew. That was a mouthful.
Anyway, my loving, sweet, devoted husband breathed a sigh of relief when I graduated. He was elated (I’m sure for a number of reasons). The primary cause for his happiness was that when he was home from deployments, my nose would no longer be stuck in a book. Au contraire mon mari. Within a year, I had applied to graduate school and a fellowship program. Unfortunately, I wasn't accepted for the fellowship, but I a fabulous grad school accepted me and promptly started billing me too. ;)
At this point, I was pregnant AGAIN (I know, I know, fertile Myrtle over here). I had two little ones and a baby on the way and I was starting a new job. Boy, did everyone think I was crazy! I did too. Nevertheless, in amazement I graduated with my Masters and my husband again breathed a big, ginormous sigh. (Yes, ginormous is a word--look it up.) Of course, some will say that with an English degree almost anything is possible. Maybe I SHOULD start making up new words.
Following the latest commencement, with a Masters under my belt, I began to contemplate PhD programs. My husband scowled and refused to entertain the thought. So, I researched and conversed with myself about it. Fortunately for him, I didn’t find one (yet) that appealed to me or was within my reach. He, not the quintessential student, doesn’t understand my passion for school. I imagine that he thinks I'm a bit loopy. Personally, I think he’s quite a lucky man. After all, I could be sitting around doing nothing with no plan for a lucrative career or a way to contribute to retirement or children’s education funds. Hey, someone’s has to plan for the future, and I’m that gal!
At any rate, that fellowship I applied for in the past, well I applied again and was accepted this year! It’s a fantastic program and one that actually ties in with something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and correlates to some of my previous training. So, yay! I got the fellowship and am awaiting classes to commence in the fall. I think my husband has given up and has resigned himself to the fact that while I mean well in my housewife duties, it’s more of a hobby. I squeeze it in between assignments and juggle childrearing at the same time.
As an aside, I will say that you'll will probably agree that I'm off my rocker. When my oldest was a baby, I used to read my assignments aloud while she lay on my lap, cooing and gurgling. It would soothe her to sleep (likely boring her when I studied Freud) and would give us some time together while I did school work. To this day, she is keenly interested in my studies, and while I have to censor the topics a bit, I do try to engage her. She has a thirst for knowledge and that makes me proud. Of course, I pity the man she marries, because if she’s like me, he’ll be phoning his father in law playing on the words of George Strait, “If she’s so much like her mom, There must have been times you felt my way…”
I just received this email update today from The Miles Foundation. With recent topics of assautl and domestic violence, I thought it would be appropriate to share with anyone who might want to take a gander:
The Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence includes articles relative to sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence in the US Armed Forces. The Encyclopedia also contains an article relative to the Family Advocacy Program. The Encyclopedia is among reference books published by Sage Publications. Additional Information: CLICK HERE
Anita Sanchez, Director of Communications, The Miles Foundation
Once upon a time, I was a little girl. My family vacationed yearly in the same beautiful spot. Every summer it was filled with amazing, yet simple experiences. In my mind, we were in paradise. In my memories, the world was perfect and my sister was my best friend (okay, we fought a little).
My family never took extravagant vacations, rather my parents focused on the family first and how even the little things could bring us together. To some, going to the same place every summer may seem boring and dull. To me, it was familiar, comfortable and perfect. I came of age in the same place where my mother did. She grew up going to the same coastal location with her family. It's a multi-generational thing I suppose. She and my dad basically honeymooned there as well. I can't even begin to tell you how many countless trips I made to this place. I suppose it was a home away from home--and it still is.
A silly story is before I joined the Corps, I visited here with my family (of course). I thought it was going to be my last trip there ever. I figured by enlistment would take me very far away from this little piece of heaven on earth. So, I stood out on a rock in the surf as the tide rolled in. I just stared out into the sunsetting on the horizon and contemplated my life up until that point. I imagined where I was going and the path my life would take. Never in a million years did I ever envision going back to this place, much less vacationing her with my husband and my little ones. Silly, right? I guess my point is that sometimes you feel you can never go "home" again because it's not always the same, but this place, this haven will always be "home" and I never feel strange. There's just an overwhelming peace that comes over me when I return.
Since I gave birth to my first child, I have amazingly stayed within reasonable travel distance to this very same spot. Now, with three little ones, I marvel at my ability to share with them each summer the same place I grew up loving. Of course, they may not know the impact of this, but maybe one day when they are much older, they will look back with fond memories too. I hope I can give that much to them.
We just arrived home today from our most recent trip. My girls are still giddy with excitement about the sand, shells and sea salt in the air. My husband, well I haven't seen him have so much fun being a daddy--well ever. He is such a doting dad, and a 'water-man' to boot (having grown up near the beach). Since he deploys often, he's not always been able to come with us to the beach, so this year was something really special. He had a blast building sandcastles that were quickly pummeled by tiny feet and jumping the waves for the first time with our little boy in his arms. We took them to a nearby lighthouse and were just amazed at the sheer curiosity they had about the whole experience. It was so cool. I think my favorite part was when we were just all together enjoying the moment, feeling no rush and no one was picking on anybody (LOL).
I'm still reeling in the afterglow of a great family journey and hope you and yours are able to treasure such special moments, whether it's to the beach this summer, a family picnic or even just a campout in your backyard. Give your children the gift of family memories, in any way that you can.
This morning, wiping sleep out of my eyes after a very restless night, I reluctantly got up. I clumsily made my way into the shower in hopes of waking up. While the water was refreshing, it didn’t make me any less sleepy. How on earth did I ever get up for 0430 PT runs? Oh, that’s right, I was but a young(er) lass then.
I made sure to be up no later than 0630 giving myself at least an hour to shower, dress and eat (and again wake up) before getting on the road. My journey was but a mere 29 miles from my home, still in a region I’ve not yet navigated. Darn, luxury vehicle of a minivan. Why didn’t you come equipped with a GPS?
At home, I pull on this (what I think looks like) silk, blue suit. Yes, I’ve come such a long way with blasts of color in my wardrobe (at least it’s not wool or gabardine). It does seem a bit formal and corporate; but hey, if it lands me the job, right? It’s been my power suit for about 5 years now. Funny, how for the most of those years I’ve been wiping faces and butts at my house. I guess the suit has lost its pizazz, but I digress.
My husband, be still my heart, barely let me out the door. He alleges that a woman in a suit (aka me) makes him gaga. I truly think he just didn’t want to be left alone with the little ruffians for the morning. Still, he can stroke my ego with flattery and well…I won’t tell you anymore. ;)
Getting to the good stuff: Yes, today, I had an interview. Yes, folks a real big girl type job in the civilian world. I’ve had some of those. Details about them decorate this piece of paper called my resume. Sometimes I get saucy and call it my curriculum vitae. Still, that’s usually only commonplace in academic or scholarly settings, so I missed the mark with that one when some cross-eyed interviewees asked “A what?” in the past. Note to self:Don’t try to sound smart. Just look smart. Wear the blue suit.
I drive down the highway….lahdedah….no screaming kids. A gal can get used to this. I arrive at my destination 45 minutes early. It was a piece of cake to get to and there was parking on site—for free! Bonus! So, I check my lipstick. Reapply. Read my resume. Scoff at the guy who parks next to me and bumps the van with his car door. Reread the job description. Wished I had brought a snack. Do I need more lipstick? No, that would be overkill. (I have a lipstick addiction).
Alright, it’s now about 20 minutes ‘til. That’s sufficient. I grab my briefcase and adjust my suit, walking across the pavement in my blue suit. I feel so….so….Woman Hear Me Roar.
The interview process kicks off a tad slow. The interviewer is a lovely woman, petite, polished and kindly. She is a social worker and speaks much more cautiously than my punctuated excitedness. I decide if I am to work here, I need to tone down a bit. I am so accustomed to deadlines and stress that the calm atmosphere is going to have to grow on me. After a score of questions, I dazzle her with some psychology knowledge even reference the DSM-IV. Not surprisingly, I would require some additional training because the position calls for experience in an area vastly different than what I’ve been working in for the past 12 years. It could work though. I learn real well—people tell me that. They do. I don’t just play smart on t.v. Oh, and in case you are wondering, a Masters degree (in anything) doesn’t impress people someone with a MSW or a PhD. (that was a joke, you can laugh)
Here’s the kicker: The position is a union contract. Hmph. It’s a lower pay bracket than what I’ve earned in the most recent past so that could be a deal breaker too. Still, social services don’t yield high wages, and I wasn’t shocked. It would be glorious if she said, You’ll be making $200K a year, but I live in the real world. At least most of the time.
You may be wondering if I’ve made a decision. I haven’t. I have to crunch some numbers and I’m still interviewing and applying elsewhere. I don't know if I will actually go back to work right now. I enjoy searching for the perfect job (if there is such a thing). I love the prep that goes into the interview process (weird, I know). And, part of me feels I need to justify the pretty diplomas that I owe a lot of money for.
Of course, part of me wants to continue doing the stay-at-home mommy thing where I get to eat BonBons and watch soaps all day. Still, the power suit beckons me. It urges me to get up at zero-dark-thirty to wash my hair and slather on makeup so that I can trudge off to a Monday morning meeting.
What’s that saying? The office/house is always greener on the other side?
My great grandmother passed away last year at the age of 93. I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss her. My family at large recognizes a void when we gather. She had a spirit about her. No, it was more spunk. Yes, even in her old age, she was spunky. I loved her and so terribly regret that I missed out on so much as I myself grew up. I never got a chance to ask her so much. Today, I sit here with questions that could fill the pages of a novel.
Her name was Ann. She was part of the Greatest Generation. This is my favorite period in history, and I never thought to ask my grandmother about it when she was still alive. Sure, I have a few stories from her childhood and the tales she told of the early years of her marriage, but my memories are now fading with time. I should have written them down. I should have paid better attention.
My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, which is both progressive and fatal for many. It’s a heartbreaking condition that has the ability to tear you apart knowing that you cannot give someone back their mind and memories. You feel helpless. I imagine the patient feels the same in some respects, then again, do they know? They are frustrated and they are bewildered at lot of the times because people are trying to remind them of things that they didn’t even know were forgotten. It’s tragic.
On a happier note, I recently finished reading an amazing book, by Elizabeth Berg. Dream When You’re Feeling Blue paid homage to the servicemen at war and the families on the homefront during WWII, the greatest generation. Since I have such an affinity for anything associated with this era, I could see myself in the plot, I felt akin to the characters. Berg, a New York Times bestselling author eloquently depicted many aspects of romance and family life as well as patriotism. Those which stood out to me the most were sacrifice, honor, and responsibility.
You will fall in love with the Heaney family and your heart will both ache and leap with joy as you journey through time with this tale. While it’s a fictional piece, the majority of it is based on factual places and events. In fact, Berg painstakingly researched this book and the history behind the times to present the most accurate description of the period and lives she was telling about. Not only is this a chronicle of love and honor, but is also one of history that is easy to relate to in our own tumultuous times.
We have really been dealing with a battle in the kitchen these days. Actually it’s been going on for at least a year. We purchased a new dishwasher in 2006. However, it doesn’t work. That’s right, it doesn’t do it’s one job and that is to wash dishes. Who knows if we had a warranty because we can’t find the paperwork. Anyway, lesson learned, make sure you keep all of those warranties in one place folks!
Fast forward to last week: the hubby and I to a trip to Lowes, and spoke to the gentleman in kitchen appliances. Yes, the children were with us, and, yes, they were less than enthused to be there. Anyway, the guy tells us that the dishwasher we had was just about the worst out there and he won’t sell it to anyone unless it’s perhaps a landlord that needs a dishwasher for a rental fast. Okay, so it was cheap, but we were trying to save money. Well, as they say, you get what you pay for.
I’m proud to say that yesterday though our new dishwasher arrived. It’s wonderful. It washes the dishes. Can you believe it? So, for now, no more rinsing the dishes, putting them in the dishwasher and then haven’t to rewash. I think this one may actually do its job. Oh, and it’s a water saver one too boot—which is a plus!
I’m excited about a dishwasher; excited enough to blog about it. I think I’m officially old now.
Tuesday - July 1st - MyMilitaryLife Bloggers - A Day in the Life of a Military Spouse - Join us for a conversation with some of the bloggers from http://mymilitarylife.wordpress.com. We are featuring Submarine Wife Megan, Coast Guard wife “Just a Girl in a Port”, Army wife Cristin and new Navy wife Hillary. This is our lineup at press time, we are hoping to add to the list. Have you thought about starting your own blog, but not sure how to get started? We will be answering that question and more. Plus, we will also be talking about how blogging can help you through a deployment and be a virtual scrapbook for your thoughts and experiences. If you have a question for our authors, please email them to jessica(at)navywiferadio.com.